It seems that while I wasn’t looking, Kara turned three months old. A quarter of a year. She has turned my whole world upside-down in the best possible way.
For starters, we’ve reached some of our therapy goals!
✔️ Hold head in mid-line
✔️ Bring hands together and up to mouth
✔️ Hold head up on her own
✔️ Work on visual & auditory tracking
She loves to be talked to and engaged. If you stand in front of her, she will lock her eyes on you. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an unforgettable GRIN! We also love to watch her try to roll over. The other night, we spent probably 20 minutes watching her on the monitor while she was half-asleep in her crib. She was pulling her knees to her chest and thrusting them to the side, desperately trying to flip over. She has made it to her side a handful of times over the past three months, but she is so very close to deliberately accomplishing it and I can’t wait until she does! She makes me so proud!
Now we’ve started to focus on some different goals like reaching for toys and strengthening the right parts of her tongue. With Down syndrome, it is common for children to have a hard time keeping their tongues under control. This is due to the hypotonia (low muscle tone) that they are born with. We try not to stimulate the tip of her tongue, as this will only cause that “pushing” muscle to get stronger. What we want to encourage is her exploring the sides and back of her tongue. This will help her with feeding now and her speech in the long run.
Kara spends most of her days exploring her environment. I was told that babies are either very interested in their surroundings or are very overwhelmed by it. Kara can’t get enough. Right now, she is in a very touchy-grabby stage. Toys. Blankets. Hair. You name it. If it’s within her reach, she gets a death grip on it. She runs her hands and face over her soft blankets and play mat, and she usually puts her hand on mine when I’m feeding her.
Speaking of feeding, we are still bottle feeding her breast milk. We haven’t transitioned to nursing full-time yet, and at this point I’m not sure that we will try to, but that’s for another post. She is still taking about 4 ounces every three hours during the day time. This big news is that we have transitioned to a cradle hold. Before this, we were feeding her on her side, atop an elevated pillow. This made it easier for her to retrieve milk without getting too overwhelmed. Now her strength shows as she chugs her meals with no issues!
Right now, my most favorite thing to do with her is practice her sounds. Lately, she’s been making lots of grunts and growls which is pretty hilarious. We practice her kissy lips (she knows the only boy she’s allowed to them use on is daddy!) She’s also been making panting sounds with her mouth open and her tongue wide. (Hanging around the pups a little too much?) I try to get her to mimic me, but we’re not quite there yet. She tries so hard. I can see her watching my every move and wanting to move her mouth the way I do.
My favorite sound? The chuckle that she gave me last week!!! She was starting to get fussy so I distracted her with a bit of silliness and it worked! Her eyes were focused right on mine and her mouth started to turn up at the corners. Next thing I know, her face was beaming! She gave me the biggest, most beautiful, toothless grin. Then in the tiniest voice, I hear “Heh heh, heh”.
It completely took me by surprise. In new mom fashion, my reaction was to gasp, cover my face, and break out in tears. I made my baby girl laugh! Me! I was only expecting a calm, blank stare and instead I got one one of the greatest memories she could give me. I felt so special 🙂
This past month has been extremely busy. Kara celebrated her first Halloween as Little Red Riding Hood, laughed for the first time, started sleeping through much of the night, and learned many new skills. The sky is the limit with this one.
“I don’t know how I lived without you,
‘Cause every time that I get around you,
I see the best of me inside your eyes.
You make me smile.”